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Thread: Trouble using routers as switches

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Trouble using routers as switches

    I'm trying to set up a home network for ~10-15 devices, many of which will be wired and/or using large amounts of local bandwidth at any time. Instead of spending a boatload of money on a dual-band N router and a 16-port switch, I'm trying to recycle some old routers to do the job. I have a multipurpose server with a line to the outside world, which runs DHCP on a second interface. I would like to connect this interface to a network of 3-5 routers which have DHCP disabled.

    I would like to have the DHCP server at, routers starting at, and each router's clients to span 192.168.1.x ranges of their own, all assigned by DHCP at

    I've never quite been able to wrap my head around the idea of subnets, which is what my problem is, I'm sure. Anyway...

    My question is really about how everything should be connected. All of the routers I'm using have 1 WAN and 4 LAN ports. Should I be running wire from the server to the first router's WAN, then from one of the LAN ports to the next router's WAN, and so on? When I do this the routers insist that I change their LAN addresses to a different subnet (a Netgear router assigned itself and threatened not to work until I changed the settings back.) This seems to prevent their clients from reaching the DHCP server at Is that the routers' intention?

    On that note, if I make all the connections to the routers' LAN ports, how am I to recognize the route to the gateway at Is that the type of thing that RIP is suited for?

    Sorry if this post isn't very clear. I could whip up a pseudo-diagram of what I'm trying to do if it would help.

    An advance thank you to anyone who can help point me in the right direction here!

  2. #2
    Moderator YeOldeStonecat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Somewhere along the shoreline in New England
    You don't want to use the WAN/internet port of the routers that you want to use as a switch.

    Primary router at, doing the broadband connection, DHCP enabled and handing out IPs starting at

    Second router, LAN at, DHCP disabled, and uplinked to the first router using a LAN port of each of them. Depending on your model may use an uplink port or a crossover cable if they're older 10/100 LAN based routers. Newer gigabit switch routers can use standard patch cable to uplink since gigabit standard includes auto MDI-X at the port.

    Third router, LAN at, DHCP disabled, uplinked to first router using a LAN port of each.

    Fourth router, LAN at, DHCP disabled, uplinked to first router using LAN port of each.

    Fifth see where this is going.

    Now with 5x routers, you'll have 12x free LAN ports....3x on each of the second level routers. Your first router is filled up by the 4x routers handing off of it.

    Sorta messy setup....honestly 16x port switches, unmanaged, are dirt cheap.
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  3. #3
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Hey StoneCat, you sound knowledgable about this kind of setup.
    I set my 2 routers up this way but I lose all my speed on download. The link is there but Direct is 20 mgbit and going thru second router is less than 1 mgbit. (See msg "Router to Router MK2" in networking.

    I would be interested if bezeek keeps his speed up with this setup.

    StoneCat, thanks for the insight on how to produce levels when going to 5th router etc.
    Last edited by Zinc; 10-08-10 at 10:16 PM.

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